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How IAG supports staff experiencing domestic violence

Creating an environment at work where people feel safe to speak up and seek help if they need it lies at the heart of IAG's purpose 'to make your world a safer place'.

IAG's Organisation Development Consultant, Kayla Ratumaitavuki, says, "We have so many people from all walks of life and it’s really important that our purpose rings true for everyone."

This is especially true when it comes to supporting staff who are experiencing domestic violence. This is a pervasive issue in our communities, with New Zealand having the highest reported rates of domestic violence in the developed world.

"IAG is New Zealand’s largest general insurer, with more than 3,300 people employed across the country," said Kayla. "We know it's extremely important that we have the necessary processes and policies in place to help someone should they ever need support. When it comes to domestic violence, we know we need to be proactive to help our people."

In May 2019, IAG NZ was awarded Shine's DVFREE Tick, which recognises the comprehensive steps IAG has taken to provide a best practice response to domestic violence.

To achieve the accreditation, businesses need to make their workplace safe and supportive for employees experiencing domestic violence. This includes knowing how to manage staff who use abusive behaviour and raising awareness so that all staff know what to do if a workmate is experiencing domestic violence.

The DVFREE Tick also requires visible support from senior leadership. Kayla says getting senior management on board was an easy process. "For IAG, the DVFREE Tick aligns with our values, purpose and equity framework, so it was was an easy choice to embrace the programme to further our work in this space."

Kayla says ensuring employees understand the impact of domestic violence in the workplace was the next step in the process. "Initially, this was something people didn’t realise was a workplace issue, so we brought everyone on the journey by explaining why we were committed to the DVFREE Tick, and how it could positively impact our workplace for everyone."

A key DVFREE Tick requirement is training a team of First Responders. These are trustworthy, warm and empathetic IAG individuals that people can go to for help if they need it.

First Responders go through a full day of specialist training, which includes recognising signs, how to respond to disclosures and provide ongoing support.”

IAG also has quarterly First Responder peer support sessions – something Kayla, who manages the programme, devised to "support the supporters".

Another key requirement of the DVFREE Tick is to have people leaders attend domestic violence training sessions, which are delivered by IAG's own accredited in-house trainers.

"It's important to offer people a range of ways to seek the support they need - it can't be a one-size-fits-all process, and information on offer needs to be easily accessible, simple and relevant," says Kayla.

"Having various teams that are aligned on what is available to support people is important. This way, whichever support channel a person chooses, there's a clear understanding about what's in place at IAG – whether that's obtaining leave or finding someone who can support them."

Kayla's advice for other organisations is simple, "The DVFREE Tick programme is never going to be as difficult as being impacted by domestic violence itself. It doesn't take a lot - only your commitment to support your people as best you can. You don’t ever want to be left saying 'what if?'."

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